Board Brief: December 15, 2022

BOARD BRIEF: Top things to know from the Dec. 15th Board meeting
Posted on 12/16/2022

BOARD BRIEF: Top things to know from the San Marcos Unified Governing Board Meeting

December 16, 2022

The following Board Brief provides a recap from the December 15, 2022 San Marcos Unified School District Governing Board Meeting:

1. Superintendent, Dr. Andy Johnsen shared a presentation to the Board and community. Dr. Johnsen shared a presentation to the Board and community with a brief update on the recent California School Boards Conference held recently in San Diego. Not only was this a time of learning and connecting, but each member of the Governing Board was in attendance, as well as our Student Board Reps. 

Strategic Promise momentum 

Dr. Johnsen also shared how the Strategic Promise is moving forward, including a new mental health campaign, a Strategic Plan update to focus on Staff Wellness, a new Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, an Energy Conservation Project, as well as the Positive Certification from the first Interim Budget Report. 

SDCOE Lighthouse Award

Dr. Johnsen was also pleased to announce that Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Tiffany Campbell, was recently announced as a recipient of the 2023 San Diego County Office of Education Lighthouse Award as an Equity Champion. Dr. Johnsen explained that the award is given to a district administrator who encompasses the light necessary for people to come together and create opportunities for all students and families, in pursuit of equitable outcomes.

2. Updates from the Deputy Superintendent & Assistant Superintendent of Business Services. 

Mental Health Program Update 

Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Tiffany Campbell, along with Public Information Officer, Amy Ventetuolo, shared an update to the Board and community about the coming mental health campaign to launch January 2023. 

The campaign, “Let’s Face It. Together.” has been developed in collaboration with the City of San Marcos to help youth and teens get support from the District to address mental health challenges. The mental health program consists of wellness teams for each campus to help students and families in need of support. The program also consists of a text line for teens, where they can access mental health support 24/7 from trained mental health professionals. The campaign will be launched in early 2023 with a variety of communication to raise awareness with staff, students and parents.  

Winter Break Campus Maintenance 

Assistant Superintendent, Erin Garcia, provided an update about several facilities and maintenance projects scheduled to take place over the Winter Break. Students recently conducted the last day of school at the old Richland Elementary campus, as over the break the furniture and equipment will be moved to the brand new school campus, which will be ready for full-time school operations on January 9, 2023. 

The Joli Ann Leichtag Elementary School playground project is currently scheduled to be completed at the end of Winter Break, as long as weather conditions permit.

Garcia also shared there are many other projects and preventative maintenance taking place throughout campuses during Winter Break. 

3. Student Board Representatives share school updates.
In an effort to encourage student participation and cultivate student leadership skills, the Board has student representatives that participate in Regular Board Meetings throughout the year. During the December 15th meeting, Student Board Representative, Emily Chrysler from Mission Hills High School, shared updates from her school.

Chrysler’s presentation began sharing a Fall Athletics recap, a Senior Spirit Week and Winter Spirit Week overview, a staff karaoke event, and student philanthropy events to benefit other San Marcos Unified families and the community. Chrysler’s Student Spotlight this month was student photographer, Natalie Ortega. The Staff Spotlights for the month, which are selected by students, were Mr. Barrette, as the teacher selected for motivating students the most. The second Staff Spotlight was Acting Principal, Mr. Baker, for doing an amazing job leading the school.

4. Principal Update: Carrillo Elementary School.
Amanda Keeton, Principal of Carrillo Elementary School, and Assistant Principal, Shannon Williams, along with several Carrillo students, shared how student leadership is fostered at Rancho Carrillo. Assistant Principal Williams shared how the school has doubled in size since the opening of the school in 1999. Carrillo students then shared about school traditions and programs including, Leadership Launch which connects students' passions with leadership opportunities that also align with the Portrait of a Graduate. Older students also shared how they are ambassadors to younger Kindergarten students, as well as Playground Partners which emphasizes fair play, taking turns and community corner. They also shared about Bridge Crew, a place where students can wait after school for older siblings, as well as Student Council and Colt TV. 

5. SMUSD Recognizes Outgoing Board Member, Sydney Kerr, and swears in Incoming Board Member, Andrés Martín.
Board Member, Sydney Kerr, has served as the Board Member representing District in Area C for the last four years. At the December 15th meeting, Board Member Kerr was celebrated for all of her hard work and dedication to serving the students and families at SMUSD. After a brief recess, newly-elected Board Member, Andrés Martín, was welcomed and sworn into office by Superintendent Dr. Johnsen, and then took his seat with the other Governing Board members to begin serving in his new role. 

To find out more about Board Member Martín, please click here.

6. Election of Board Officers including President, Vice President and Clerk.
Each year the Governing Board nominates and elects officers of the Board. The Governing Board unanimously elected Board Member, Jaime Chamberlin, to serve as Board President. The Board unanimously elected Board Member, Dr. Carlos Ulloa, to serve as Board Vice President. The Board also unanimously elected Board Member, Sarah Ahmad, to serve as Clerk of the Governing Board. The Board then selected Andrés Martín to represent the Board on the North Coastal Consortium for Special Education (NCCSE) Trustee Review Committee.

7. First Interim Budget Report and Positive Budget Certification.
Assistant Superintendent, Erin Garcia, presented the 2022-23 First Interim Budget Report. Garcia began by sharing the General Fund revenues totaling $327 million, and expenditures totaling $298 million. Garcia also shared the news, that after the hard work done last year to stabilize the district’s budgets, and after two years of filing “Qualified” budgets, this month the District will file the first “Positive” budget certification in two years, signifying SMUSD is in good financial standing. 

Garcia then explained the District has continued to experience a decline in enrollment and attendance, while not as sharp as last school year which immediately followed the pandemic. Enrollment and attendance both directly impact budget revenues. 

Garcia then shared the multi-year projection, or MYP, assumptions which serve as a calculation to plan for future budget years. Revenue MYP assumptions include a state increase in the Cost of Living Adjustment, or COLA, removing one-time state and federal funding, as well as the decrease in attendance and enrollment funding. Revenue MYP assumptions also include two large one-time Block Grants, the Learning Recovery Block Grant of $16.4 million and an Arts, Music & Instructional Materials Discretionary Block Grant of $12.1 million. Expenditure MYP assumptions include the CALPERS & CALSTRS retirement rates remaining steady, health benefit increases, employee attrition savings, as well as removing one-time expenses. With this, the District budget is projected to have an unrestricted ending fund balance of $29.3 million with 9.1% in reserves at the end of the fiscal year, putting the budget on track to receive a “Positive” budget certification this month, which is the highest level of budget certification that can be achieved and signifies a District is in good financial standing.

However, it was also noted that while progress has been made, with a recent update from the Legislative Analyst's Office issuing a cautious fiscal outlook for the State Budget, it is prudent for the district to continue to take a thoughtful and disciplined approach to fiscal decisions moving forward.

Garcia shared that next steps would be to monitor the Governor’s January Budget, and SMUSD staff will develop the 2022-23 Local Control Accountability Plan, or LCAP, Block Grant plans, and Strategic Plan with stakeholder input. 

To view the 2022-23 Adopted Budget At-A-Glance, please click here.

8. The Governing Board heard a presentation on Engie Energy Solutions and approved a Resolution to move forward with millions in cost savings. The San Marcos Unified School District has received grant funding to purchase seven electric buses through the Air Pollution Control District. As a result, SMUSD is in need of updating the charging and energy infrastructure for these buses, and to meet the State mandate of a carbon neutral bus fleet by the year 2035. SMUSD has been working with Engie Energy Solutions to develop a plan to upgrade the Transportation Yard and bus fleet, as well as identify other cost and energy saving measures so that these upgrades can be done at no-cost to the District.

Engie Energy Solutions Senior Manager, Nancy Rorabaugh, shared a presentation on a comprehensive program to pursue energy conservation measures (ECMs), funding for the program, outlined energy and cost savings, and next steps. 

Key energy saving measures that were identified, include: energy efficient lighting replacements at 19 schools, the Transportation Yard and the District Office; new sports field lighting at Woodland Park Middle School and a retrofit of existing sports field lighting at Mission Hills High School; solar installed at San Marcos High School, the District Office and the Transportation Yard; a new roof at the District Office; 17 EV (electric) Bus Chargers at the Transportation Yard to prepare for the coming grant-funded electric buses, a battery storage system at the District Office and Transportation Yard; a microgrid at the Transportation Yard for emergency back-up power; electrical infrastructure to support up to 75 EV bus chargers at the Transportation Yard and a 20-year maintenance of renewable systems. 

Ultimately, these energy savings projects at 19 schools, the Transportation Yard and the District Office, will generate $44 million in energy savings to the District over the next 30 years.

In order to proceed with the programs to realize the energy and costs savings, SMUSD is taking out a $23 million low-interest, tax exempt equipment lease with a 20-year financing term, which is paid for by energy and operational savings, utility incentives, and state and federal grants. The cost savings for the project is guaranteed by Engie Energy Solutions to ensure the District will realize energy savings and will not incur any budget impacts.

After conducting a public hearing, the Board unanimously approved the Resolution to move forward with Engie Energy Solutions and the Lease-Purchase Agreement and an Escrow Agreement to implement the program. 

9. Personnel Update.
The Governing Board approved an employment agreement for the new Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, Dr. Joel Garcia. Dr. Garcia brings 21 years of educational leadership experience to SMUSD, and has spent the last seven years serving in Human Resources Administration in San Diego County school districts. 

“I am honored to join the San Marcos Unified team, and I’m ready to serve our students, our staff, and our community,” said Dr. Garcia. 

In addition, several other personnel updates were shared during the meeting, including:

  •  Transportation Coordinator, Andrea Mancino, was approved by the Board.
  •  Foster Youth and Homeless Coordinator, Cynthia Flores, was approved by the Board.
  •  Community Schools Coordinator, Adelita Gonzales, was approved by the Board. 

10. Gifts to San Marcos Unified School District. The Board also approved multiple gifts donated to the District from generous PTO organizations, community members, and businesses including Mission Federal Credit Union, Frontstream, and Gerardy Photography.   

For a complete and detailed overview of any of the items above, please see the full Board Meeting Agenda by clicking here.

For a link to the Board Briefs on the SMUSD website, please click here.

For a video of the Board Meeting, please click here.